All Spirits

For this is the reason the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead, so that, though they had been judged in the flesh as everyone is judged, they might live in the spirit as God does. – 1 Peter 4:6

I would wish you a restful Holy Saturday, my Savior,
a Sabbath to honor God’s rest in Creation,
a Sabbath to honor the leisure of freedom,
a Sabbath between work done and to be done.

Yet this one verse of Scripture bewildering
rings also with promise and grace,
that your love would encompass not only
the living, but also raise up the dead.

We honor the dead in our memory,
unless we seek to excuse the living,
and then we defame them, abuse them,
discard them as surely as Pilate intended for you.

So Jesus, I pray you forgive my hope
that your Holy Saturday set aside rest
to welcome all spirits, once living, still living,
into the new life for which you had died.

A poem/prayer based on 1 Peter 4:1-8, the Revised Common Lectionary Second Reading for Year B, Holy Saturday.

The image is The Harrowing of Hell by Michael Burghers (1647/8–1727) – Copied from the 1904 work “Plays of our Forefathers” by Charles Mills Gayley, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3434524.

Holy Week 2020: Holy Saturday

Speak to the spirits in prison, Jesus.
Speak to them words of release.

Speak to the souls behind bars, Savior.
Tell them that they might be free,
free of the cell and the guards,
free of addiction and need.

Speak to the ones kept at home, Jesus.
Tell them that this time will end.
Assure them that illnesses pass,
even if we cannot know the day.

Speak to the ones in the shackles
of greed and of greed and of greed.
Tell them their souls need not bow
to the folly of selfish pursuit.

Speak to the ones whose emotions
cannot be controlled by their minds.
Speak peace, reassurance, and comfort.
Grant them a shoulder to cry.

Speak to the braggarts and blowhards.
Persuade them the curse of their pride,
a torrent of crass self-deception
in which the Truth often dies.

Speak to the spirits in prison, Jesus.
Let all human souls find release.

The image is a detail from the upper right panel of “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10895578.

Holy Week 2019: Saturday

Tossed aside.

I’ve been used so many times,
endured the burden
of enduring agony.

Now my grain is cracked,
my edges splintering.
I cannot grasp a nail.

Tossed aside.

If I had sap to weep
I’d weep. Instead, the blood
congeals in jagged rust.

I’m not alone. The man
whose life I finished last
now lies nearby:

Tossed aside.

His brow no longer bleeds.
My sap no longer flows.
We wait alone together.

We wait a day that I can bloom.
We wait a day that he can run.
We wait a day we are no longer

Tossed aside.

Photo of ‘ohia lehua by Eric Anderson.